Jumps Preview: Soaring Potential

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This article originally appeared on athletics.org.au – home of Athletics Australia: http://www.athletics.com.au/News/jumps-preview-soaring-potential

Women’s Long Jump

Brooke Stratton (Vic) enters the women’s long jump as one of Australia’s best chances for gold. The Commonwealth Games debutant in her final hitout before Gold Coast soared out to her best jump of the season with 6.88m and was an impressive runner-up to Christabel Nettey (CAN).

The 24-yr-old first made the athletics world take notice back in 2016 when she improved 31cm over the domestic season. A strong series of marks culminated in a sensational 7.05m at the Perth Track Classic which broke 2006 Melbourne Games winner Bronwyn Thompson’s 14-year-old Oceania and Australian records.

The Canadian Nettey won their duel at the Brisbane Queensland International Track Classic with 6.92m just 7cm short of her personal best and looks to be one of Stratton’s main challengers for gold.

Lorraine Ugen (ENG) arrives ranked number one with a strong international record. The Englishwoman was 11th in Rio and fifth at the world championships in London (2017) and Moscow (2015). Her best jump is an indoor mark of 6.97m.

Queenslander Naa Anang is in fine form having jumped 6.66m on the Gold Coast at the Australian Championships just 2cm short of her personal best from 2017. That year the 23-year-old was the national champion and won a bronze medal at the World University Games with 6.55m.

Lauren Wells (ACT) has arguably the most ambitious double on the program and one of the rarest in Games history.

Better known as a 400m hurdler where she is an 11-times national champion, the 29-year-old returned to the long jump in style last year after a 10-year absence. During the 2017/18 domestic season, she lept a Commonwealth Games qualifier and new personal best of 6.44m before later improving to 6.49m at the Australian Championships.

If all goes to plan, Wells will jump in the final just 25 minutes after toeing the start line in the 400m hurdles, an event where would dearly love to better her two fourth places from Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014.

Women’s Pole Vault

One of the most spectacular events on the athletics program is also set to be one of the most exciting. Australia’s Nina Kennedy will battle for vaulting supremacy with New Zealand’s Eliza McCartney and Holly Bradshaw (ENG).

This domestic season Kennedy has recaptured the form that she first showed back in 2015 when she recorded the world’s best ever outdoor performance by a junior.

In February this year, the 21-year-old raised her personal best to 4.60m and then one week later moved to number three Australian all-time with a vault of 4.71m. At the National championships, she was again in fine form with an excellent 4.60m defeating McCartney the 2016 Olympic bronze medallist.

The New Zealander, who also has a World University Games silver medal in the trophy cabinet, set an Oceania record of 4.82m in Auckland in 2017.

Bradshaw has a formidable resume with top seven placings in each of the last three major championships and has a personal best of 4.81m set in 2017.

The trio are set for a much-anticipated rematch of their World Indoor Championships performances earlier this year where the Englishwoman won the bronze (4.70m) ahead of Kennedy and the Kiwi, who were equal eighth (4.60m).

A big winter of training paid immediate dividends for Lisa Campbell (QLD) when she opened her 2017/18 domestic season on November 20 with a personal best of 4.15m.

In January 2018 she vaulted her first Commonwealth Games qualifier, with a height of 4.25m and then achieved this on another two occasions. At the Australian Championships and Commonwealth Games trials she cleared 3.90m in the qualifying round but in the final she no heighted at 3.95m. Disappointment at her performance turned to joy when she was selected in the Commonwealth Games team. Her final competition was at Sippy Downs on the Sunshine Coast last week where she vaulted 4.20m.

Liz Parnov (WA) has had a solid preparation for the Games with a second place at the 2018 Australian Championships and was selected to compete at her third Commonwealth Games.

The West Australian had an outstanding junior career with silver medals at both the 2011 World Youth Championships and World Junior Championships before making her Olympic debut in 2012.

After injury curtailed her 2016 season she rebounded well in 2017, clearing a personal best 4.51m in Perth in March and placing second in the national titles. At the IAAF World Championships in London, she cleared 4.35m in the qualifying rounds of the pole vault.

Parnov’s best result this domestic season was set in Perth back in February where she reached 4.40m

Australia has won every women’s pole vault gold since the inaugural title in 1998.

Women High Jump

A pair of 21-year old’s will don the green and gold to represent Australia’s women’s high jump hopes, as Cassie Purdon (QLD) and Nicola McDermott (NSW) make their Commonwealth Games debut.

McDermott had a frustrating first international experience, recording a no height at the 2017 London World Championships, however a domestic season without defeat, recording five winning jumps of 1.84m or higher will buoy her confidence. Equalling a 2017 personal best in January 2018 of 1.90m, McDermott will look to push into medal contention and into the top ten Australian all-time list.

Winning her first national title on the Gold Coast, Purdon has built upon her fifth-place finish at the 2014 World Under 20 Championship, clearing a seasons best of 1.86m in February. The Queensland-based athlete appears to be in personal best shape, looking to eclipse a 1.88m personal best set in 2015. Purdon has cleared 1.80m or higher since 2013, a consistently nationally relevant competitor makes her major championship debut as an exciting prospect.

Morgan Lake (England) enters as the top-ranked gold medal favourite in a strong international field, a consistent 1.90m or higher performer at major championships. The 1.96m jumper was tenth in Rio (1.93m) and 6th at the recent London World Championships (1.95m).

Men’s Long Jump

Victorian Chris Mitrevksi will be surrounded by experience as he takes to the Gold Coast runway with teammates Fabrice Lapierre (NSW) and Henry Frayne (QLD), both two-time Olympians with Commonwealth Games experience.

The 2017 & 2018 National Champion, Mitrevksi has shown dominant form this summer jumping 8.01m (+1.0) and a windy 8.09m (+2.1). At the 2017 World University Games, he placed fourth and the lure of an international medal here should coax him beyond 8 metres again.

A student of veteran Victorian coach John Boas, the Lakeside Stadium regular has only suffered one loss this season, placing fourth against an experienced international field at the Queensland International Track Classic.

Phoenix-based Lapierre has medalled twice in the Commonwealth arena, with a bronze medal in Melbourne, a gold medal from Delhi. A frustrating fourth-place finish in Glasgow will motivate the 34-year competing in front of a home crowd. A personal best of 8.40m (2010) makes Lapierre dangerous when he’s healthy and in the groove. He jumped 7.67m (+1.5) this season on the Gold Coast and 7.70m back in February on the US indoor circuit.

The five-time world championship representative will draw upon over a decade of experience racing down the fastest runways in the world to leap out well past the 8m mark in search of a medal.

A World Championship triple jump finalist, the multi-talented Frayne has competed sparingly this season, giving himself the best chance to be healthy on the Gold Coast runway.

The Queensland-based athlete trains under one of the brightest minds in the sandpit, Gary Bourne. A personal best of 8.27m (2012) reminds fellow competitors to underestimate Frayne at their peril. The 27-year-old who has a seasons best of 7.77m set in Brisbane and a fourth-place finish at the National Championships has the ability to surprise in a championship final.

The top-seeded entrant, Luvo Manyonga (South Africa), brings a frightening set of accolades to the competition. Following a highly publicised battle with drug addiction in 2014, the humorous South African made substantial lifestyle changes, refocusing to take second at the 2016 Rio Olympics, followed by a maiden World Championship title in 2017.

Having jumped 8.62m this season, including a silver medal at the 2018 World Indoor Championships, Manyonga’s 2017 personal best of 8.65m may tumble as the eccentric jumper charges down the runway in front of a what’s sure to be an excited and supportive local crowd.

Men’s Triple Jump

The lone Australian representative, Commonwealth Games debutant Emmanuel Fakiye (NSW) will channel the excitement of a breakout season. The 21-year old leapt out to a 16.26m (+0.0) personal best in January, claiming his first open national title on the Gold Coast. A substantial improvement since jumping 15.18m in 2015, 2016 saw steady improvement to 15.76m with 2017 bringing another personal best of 15.90m. This season’s new personal mark confirmed a talent many onlookers had suspected throughout the young jumper’s career.

Narrow gold medal favourite Clive Pullen (Jamaica) in a deep international field, is a product of the American collegiate system. He’s a two-time collegiate indoor national champion and the University of Arkansas student has jumped 16.90m outdoors, with a 2017 leap of 17.19m indoors suggesting an international level of competitiveness.

Men’s High Jump

A duo with international experience well beyond their age belies, Brandon Starc (NSW) and Joel Baden (VIC) have developed quite the habit of securing senior representative singlets.

Starc made a World Championship debut in 2013 in Moscow, followed by a ninth-place finish in Glasgow, a mark the three-time national champion has shown the required form to improve upon recently.

A consistent 2.28m performer in his national championship victories, Starc holds a personal best of 2.31m (Beijing, 2015), and will be delighted arriving on the Gold Coast injury-free after missing the 2017 World Championships with a shin injury.

Baden shot to local fame in his final year of high school, putting a raucous schoolboy crowd into mild hysterics whilst breaking the Associated Public Schools meet record when he cleared 2.29m as an 18-year old. The now 22-year-old former Melbourne Grammar student recalls the meet as one of his finest, with World Championship (2015) & Olympic experiences (2016) made frustrating by niggling injuries.

The 2017 national champion has reported a healthy lead-up campaign with a confident training base accumulated pre-Gold Coast. The Sandro Bisetto-coached athlete will be eager to push toward the late stages of the competition this coming week.

Robbie Grabarz (England) packs a world-class personal best of 2.37m (2012), and has cleared 2.28m or better since 2010. The 2012 Olympic bronze medallist possesses the ability to dominate the Gold Coast final.

Men’s Pole Vault

Spectators would be forgiven for a lack of familiarity with Australia’s baby-faced vaulting trio, a group led in international experience by 20-year old Olympian Kurtis Marschall (SA), joined by 20-year old Declan Carruthers (WA) and Australia’s youngest ever pole vault national champion Angus Armstrong (NSW).

Marschall is rarely seen without his trademark grin outside of competition, but the steely determination of the ambitious youngster has been on display at the World Championship level, recording sixth and fourth place finishes respectively outdoors (2017) and indoors (2018).

A personal best equalled throughout the season of 5.80m, Marschall is the second seed in the men’s pole vault competition. Victorious in each domestic appearance this season, recording winning heights of 5.70m or greater on three occasions, Marschall’s suggested dreams of holding a similar set of titles to hero Steve Hooker’s, World, Commonwealth and Olympic titles has started to look an increasingly realistic possibility, as this exciting young vaulting talent improves in each competitive appearance.

Armstrong, the oldest of the social media savvy trio makes his major championship debut on the Gold Coast. Winning a national title at the tender age of 18 in 2015 then after a fifth-place finish at the 2017 World University Games confirmed the 5.52m vaulter’s ability to perform under pressure. Armstrong reportedly enjoys juggling university study and training demands, finding neither tedious. Watch for the gregarious vaulter to make the most of his senior debut.

A Youth Olympics representative in 2014, Carruthers made a major change in moving to Perth to be coached by vaulting guru Alex Parnov. Recent results have suggested the move was a wise one. Persevering through a string of injuries including a hamstring tear and a broken foot, the 5.55m vaulter secured second at the national championships with a 5.45m vault.

2015 World Champion Shawn Barber (Canada) claimed bronze in Glasgow and has a towering personal best of 6.00m indoors and has cleared 5.93m outdoors and 5.92m this season. The Canadian has competed 11 times already this season, an earnest preparation which may lead to his first Commonwealth title.

 

 

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